Chasten Buttigieg recalls paying off student loans at an NYU Democrats event . (Photo by Alexandria Johnson)

Chasten Buttigieg, the husband of 2020 presidential candidate and mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg, spoke at an NYU College Democrats event on Thursday at the Kimmel Center for University Life.

NYU College Democrats secretary and CAS sophomore Arman Becan asked Buttigieg how he adjusted to life on the campaign trail. Buttigieg said that while his passion is to teach theater, he embraced the experiences that come with campaigning.

“I love meeting people,” Buttigieg said. “It was worth leaving the classroom. I made a conscious choice of leaving behind something I am very comfortable with to step into something new and scary because I thought it mattered.”

Becan also touched on an issue that college students across the country face: student debt. He asked Buttigieg how his student debt affected his career choice and finances.

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“I am a first-generation college student,” Buttigieg said. “I didn’t know how I was going to survive, so I had to take out loans. I had no one throughout my entire collegiate career guiding me down a healthy path.”

Buttigieg found himself having to take multiple jobs — from bartending to working at a hospital — in order to make ends meet. His efforts earned him enough money for groceries, but not for the rent, so he continued to take out loans.

“I wanted that degree,” Buttigieg said. “To me, as a first-generation college student, I wanted that piece of paper because I thought that would prove I was worth more. The sad fact was when I graduated, it didn’t mean anything in the economy I was applying in.”

Becan also questioned Buttigieg on his reaction when his husband, Pete, first brought up the idea of running for president.

“I was folding clothes and Pete was coming from a political retreat,” Buttigieg said. “I think he would make a great president, but I realized life would be very different for us, very quickly.”

Buttigieg answered questions from the crowd for the last 10 minutes.

An attendee asked Buttigieg about how he feels about being known as “the secret weapon” to Pete’s campaign.

“I am flattered by that, but I want to be careful about painting other spouses as not helpful, effective or loving,” Buttigieg said. “I think we have a better partnership because we are together, but I don’t like being painted as the one that humanizes him. I didn’t marry a cow!”

Even though Tisch alumna and attendee Isabel Mitchell has not made a decision on who to vote for in 2020, she said that Pete is one of her top contenders.

“Pete and Chasten are really compassionate people,” Mitchell said. “It’s still too early, but Pete is my top choice. We need someone new. He knows what it’s like to be a young person in America, what it’s like to have student debt.”

Email Alexandria Johnson at [email protected]

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